Monday, December 31, 2012

bye-bye 2012

It's been a tough year.

But, we're ending it in a really good, positive place.

Millie is a riot these days. She is flying all over the house on all fours now, getting more confident at pulling herself up to standing, and is in the very, very early stages of learning to cruise.

She is consistently saying dada and mama. She sand "num" the other day, and, if you listen closely you can make out approximations for kitty, no, and Elmo.

Her favorite place in the house is atop the couch, a sectional upon which crawls from one end to the other and back. Over and over and over again.

It's beautiful to watch.

Lola, meanwhile, is slowly overcoming some fears of school and is getting more confident in herself. We've been working a lot in recent months on building her self-confidence, her self-esteem. We want her to really trust in herself.

She's still our girly-girl princess, who would rather spin around in a tutu indoors than go outside and play in the mud. She hates to have her hair washed, but she loves to laugh and to make other people laugh.

She now is making up songs, telling stories and drawing out her make-believe scenes in pictures.

Her favorite pastime is flying, as in running leaps. From the couch to the floor, from the bed to to a beanbag chair, whatever and wherever.

She is our delightful 4-year-old, working to try to understand the world around her. She questions everyone on everything, from vocabulary to astronomy to medicine (science stuff).

She is our sweetheart, a little girl who likes to pretend to be tough but really is a gentle little soul.


You never know what life will bring.

At this time last year I was looking forward to 2012, pondering whether we might get a dog, thinking maybe we would start with a hamster. I thought that, by now, our long-planned bathroom remodel might be complete.

I never could have predicted the last 12 months of our lives. Not a single minute of it.

And I certainly won't try to do so for 2013.

But I really hope that my biggest problem next year is deciding whether to get a hamster or a dog.

And I really, really hope we pick the hamster.

Happy New Year.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Life with Lola

Lola is our chatter-box. I mean, the kid can talk.

Her daycare providers once gave her a ride home, probably about a year or so ago. I can't remember why, but when they dropped him off, the husband looked positively exhausted.

"Man, your daughter can talk," he said. "For being so shy, once she gets going, there's just no stopping her."

And it's true. It might take Lola an hour or so to warm up to you, but once she's comfortable, it is nonstop chatter.

Yesterday, she (finally) completed her early childhood screening. She excelled, passing everything with flying colors. In the speech section, a passing score is 21; Lola got a 35.

"She had a lot to say," the teacher laughed.

The only question that she didn't pass was this: What is a window made of out?

Lola was thoughtful, then answered, "Wind."

Such a cutie.

She's been full of sweetness these days, probably due to the incredible amount of holiday sweets she's been eating.

Yesterday, I worked late and saw her about 7 p.m. She promptly told me that she learned to spell a new word at school that day.

"Really? What word?" I asked.

She said something that started with a B and included a lot of "errr" sounds.

"Bird?" I guessed.

"No, Mommy," she said impatiently. "Watch me."

She wrapped her arms around her and pretended to shiver, "Brrrrrrr."

She makes me giggle.

Last week, while driving back from the Twin Cities, it became the Trip That Would Not End. I mean, our usual four-hour trip took us 10 hours, thanks to the ice and snow.

Everything went wrong that day - the road conditions, flat tires, work demands. I was tense and it was quickly spreading throughout the car. It was not a good moment.

We realized at some point that we, again, needed to stop and check a tire on the trailer and Lola freaked out. She was so confused by our frustrations, my growing anxiety.

"I just don't understand it," she finally wailed, out of nowhere. "Why is everything so, so broken today?"

Ray and I burst out laughing, she was so melodramatic and yet so genuine. She was saying exactly what we both were thinking. And in that moment I finally just accepted that I wasn't going to get to work that day. And that was just going to have to be OK.

So we laughed and hugged, and then stopped for a much-needed lunch break.

Kids are great. They remind me that nothing is really quite as important as I think it is.

Happy Tuesday.
- Bethany :)

P.S. Lola has her first-ever Christmas program tomorrow morning at preschool. I'm so very excited. I hope it goes well (mainly, I just hope she goes out on the darn stage, ha ha).

Monday, December 17, 2012

on a lighter note...

Cookie time!

Saturday was Cookie Day in our household as we made a concerted effort to spend some quality with our older daughter.

Lola loved it.

And so did we.


Really, we had a great weekend from beginning to end.

Ray was even willing to blow off the end of the Vikings game Sunday so we could go to the mall and see Santa.

Yeah, this is the second year in the row that Mommy got to see Santa. Lola just wasn't quite ready to go alone, though she did really great. I was very proud of her. She had a conversation with Santa, about how old she is (4), whether she was a good girl (of course), and what she wants for Christmas (a new Barbie doll).

Looking back, a whole lot has changed since our picture was taken last year.

Millie has the exact same expression, but she looks much older...

Lola is no longer on the edge of leaving toddler-hood and now is very clearly a preschooler...

And me? Well, yeah, I've changed a bunch too. I finally got around to losing the post-college/post-marriage/post-babies weight that's been sticking around too long.

In fact, it was about this time last year that I debated with Ray about whether I should give in and get my wedding rings re-sized - larger - because I couldn't wear them anymore.

This weekend, I dropped my rings off to get them re-sized - smaller - because they keep falling off.

It's nice to feel like me again.
- Bethany :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas magic?

It's been more than seven months since we last heard Millie truly talk.

And more than a few times, I've longed to hear her reach for me and say "mama" again.

I'm still waiting. But it might not be much longer.

Yesterday, Millie pointed at Ray and said "dada."

Today, after I left for work, she pointed the front door, and asked for "mama."

I've yet to hear either myself.

But it's happening. She's talking. Again.

And I can't wait to hear it.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

me and God

I'm a Christian, though I do not wear it on my sleeve.

I don't go around quoting Bible verses or talking daily about religion or my relationship with God. To me, that part of my life is private, though I am breaking that tradition today.

My faith is a huge part of who I am, particularly these days.

As we've progressed through these last seven months, learning more and more about what is "wrong" with Millie and the difficulties she has in life, my faith has played a pivotal role in how I've coped.

Generally, I don't question how God could allow her to have these struggles. Rather, I feel she is quite blessed, as I know her condition easily could have been much more debilitating or life-threatening.

When I pray, I pray that He gives her the strength, desire and fortitude to continue fighting, to continue making progress.

I don't pray for Him to heal her, because there is nothing to heal; this is who she is. Millie's future is up to her, to us, to keep encouraging her to conquer whatever obstacles may lay before her.

I believe Millie was not cursed with some rare condition, but that she was blessed with it. I feel like she is a blessing, that diversity of any kind in this world is a good thing. How boring would life be if we all looked the same, acted the same and experienced the same things?

Being Millie's mom, her caregiver, her advocate, has taught me so much, about life, about myself. I feel chosen as her mother. When I pray, I thank God. I thank Him for giving Millie to us, for trusting her into our hands, in our hearts.

I didn't intend this to be preachy, so forgive me if it has become so. It's just that, as we get closer to Christmas, I've been thinking more and more about miracles, about gifts, about life.

I believe in miracles.

But I don't pray for one for Millie's sake.

She is here, with us, doing well, learning more about life each day.

And that's worth celebrating.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Turning the corner?

Something huge happened yesterday.

It's hard to describe, in words.

Ray and I were debating putting Millie to bed. She had just had her dinner and was getting a little cranky. I sat down on the lounge end of the couch, Ray was lying in the center.

I set Millie in between us. She loves being on the couch, always has. I think it makes her feel like a big girl.

She had throw pillows on either side of her. Now Millie has never climbed over anything before; she hasn't quite figured out how to lift her legs/knees high enough.

But this time, about 6:30 p.m., she began moving around. And figuring things out.

She only had about a two-foot-wide space. But she climbed on top of pillows and began pulling herself to kneeling against the couch cushions.

Ray and I shared a smile, happy to see her moving a bit.

And then, she took off.

Millie somehow figured out she could fling her body around.

So she would get up on her knees, stretch and high as she could and throw herself at us, at the couch cushions, at anything.

It was flying Millie.

And she loved it.

She was laughing and clapping and sweating and shrieking.

She has always loved to fall backward. So she got to sitting and I would help her stand and then drop her backward and she would fall back into a pillow and giggle like mad.

More than once I thought about getting the camera.

But I didn't want it to end.

She was throwing herself into my lap; into my arms; into Ray's face, nearly gouging out an eye or two; into the couch cushions.

Lola, watching a Shrek movie from her perch on the ottoman, joined in a few times. But it was Millie's show and the 4-year-old was more interested in Fiona.

And that was OK.

We played hard with Millie until 7:30 p.m., long past her bedtime. And I tried to cuddle with her, slow things down a bit, but she kept lunging for the couch.

So we let her go for another 5-10 minutes.

And then, with her little brown curls stuck to her sweaty scalp, she looked up at me with big, beautiful green eyes, laid down and rested her head on a pillow.


She barely whimpered when Ray put her to bed.

It was only later, when the house was quiet, that I regretted not taking even a quick video.

Or even one photo.

So I drew one instead.


Seriously, though, it was an amazing experience for us. It was the first time we saw more "typical" toddler behavior from Millie.

Ray and I exchanged an ironically worried look last night, knowing that we are completely unprepared for having a "real" toddler in the house...

UPDATE: Ray is home with the girls today. I'm working (blogging on lunch break). I called Ray a bit ago to ask, a little nervously, "Is Millie acting like last night? Or is she back to (so-called) normal?"

We were very tentatively excited about what happened last night, thinking that maybe she turned a corner. But, then, always cautious, Ray noted that her meds create periods of great downs and great ups. Perhaps it was just an up?

The verdict? Too soon to say. BUT, he happily told me she spent the morning pulling herself to standing and crawling all over the house, including the couch.And, yes, she was flinging herself at anything cushion-y.

"She has gotten into everything today," Ray said, quite proud, and yet, yes, a little overwhelmed.

Knocking on a whole lot of wood today...

But it seems Christmas just might have come a bit early here...

- Bethany :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday celebrations

Millie pulled herself up to standing this weekend!

(Granted, it was probably because we were being less-than-stellar parents at the time, but, hey, it worked!)

Ray, Lola and I were sitting on the couch, all taking turns with our new Wii U system.

The Wii U has this GamePad controller - with its own tablet screen - so Ray, Lola and I were passing it around, drawing a path on it to dictate the future movements of a Mario character.

Anyhow, Millie must have thought it looked an awful lot like the iPad that she gets to play with when her school district therapist comes to the house.

She came straight for us, abandoning her pile of beloved Elmo toys, and grabbed hold of the couch cushion. She pulled herself to kneeling and then, like usual, kind of bobbed upward a few times, making you wonder whether she just might try it...

And then, all of a sudden, I wasn't just seeing the top of Millie's head poking up at me but her entire, grinning face.

She was standing!

And reaching ever so desperately for the blasted GamePad.

By day's end, she pulled herself to standing five times.

And you know what? Each time was worth the cost of the Wii U.

Times a thousand.

- Bethany :)